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Archive for August, 2018

Here is the link to the new GoFundMe page, which I set up for the current school year 2018-19, for those who prefer that route.

For those who prefer to donate via PayPal, I have an account at revpaulmckay@gmail.com.

Or, if you prefer to deposit directly to my Bank of America account, which one donor does, contact me via email.

Stephanie begins school full-time Monday and is can’t wait for the new school year.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2018 UPDATE.
Greetings from San Ignacio/Santa Elena, Belize, where Stephanie Garcia will begin her second year of high school at St. Ignatius in Santa Elena.

Actually, she started back to school two weeks ago for “review classes.”

AS FOR THE $1,100  (U.S currency) goal for her second-year expenses, I’ve raised $600 — more than half!

Of that amount I spent just north of $100 shopping in Guatemala, where things are cheaper at the markets, for items like her school bag, supplies like pens and pencils and pads and such, new dress shoes to go with the uniform and other shoes and socks needed for casual or special needs like the dance troupe she’ll participate in.

I also spent $75 on three hefty new books and another $60 or so on workbooks and study guides. One of the nice things about the second year is that she has books I bought last year that she can use again this year or throughout the four years of high school.

Also, friends who are a grade ahead or two ahead of her gave her gave her books they won’t be using anymore.

As I noted before, I paid $275 out of my pocket on her tuition back July. Between that and a government grant she’ll receive and a little money held over from last year, the remaining balance for the school year is only $30 which I will pay next week.

So I’ve expended only $235 so far.

But, again, school doesn’t officially start until the coming week. And as I’ve noted, it’s the extracurricular expenses, field trips, meals, snacks and misc. costs that take big bites out of the budget — some of which I cover out of my own pocket here and there.

So I do have a monetary stake in funding her education myself.

But I couldn’t possibly put Stephanie through school without the continuing, generous donations of people like the following:

Kay Anderson, Carol Lusk Rowdoskas, Babe Watts, Cathy Gordon, Freda Marie Brown, Burke and Sarah Watson, Kevin and Marie Moran.

Also, Kevin Dietrich, Janis Beck, Sharon Miller, Cherie Nienstedt, Diane Flannery, Susan Leddy, Jered Cady, and Linda Novak.

For those who prefer to donate via PayPal, I have an account at revpaulmckay@gmail.com.

Or, if you prefer to deposit directly to my Bank of America account, which one donor does, contact me via email.

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We hear it said so much and so emphatically these days that ALL LIVES MATTER!!!

And of course every life matters, including the lives of brown babies.

On social media and TV news, I’m constantly seeing or hearing “Thoughts and prayers for (INSERT HERE)” being lifted up.

So why is this still happening in America? Why do I never see or hear “Thoughts and prayers for the children and their families dying and suffering in American custody?”

How would you react if your little girl was ill with a cough high fever and a caregiver gave the baby Tylenol, an antibiotic — which didn’t work — and honey? (Yes, honey.) What would you do if your child died from a common cough and congestion?

    — STORY BY JOSH HERMAN AT https://www.countable.us/articles/8396-baby-dies-weeks-release-ice-custody-do-need-reform-family-detention-system

    What’s the story?
    A Guatemalan mother is suing ICE, claiming her 19-month-old daughter died shortly after being released from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in south Texas.

    The news comes as the Trump administration looks to expand its use of detention facilities to house immigrants who cross the border illegally. In June, immigration authorities requested 15,000 additional beds for detained immigrant families.

    What’s the backstory?
    In March, Yazmin Juárez, 20, crossed the Rio Grande with her daughter, Mariee, seeking asylum from violence in Guatemala.
    Border agents apprehended Juárez and Mariee and transferred them to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
    Mariee was healthy enough upon arrival to be cleared for detention at Dilley. But one week after arriving, the child developed a cough, congestion, and a fever of over 104 degrees.

    Juárez’s lawyers say medical staff prescribed Tylenol, an antibiotic, and honey, but Mariee’s health continued to decline.
    “The conditions at Dilley were unsanitary, unsafe and inappropriate for any small child,” said R. Stanton Jones, a lawyer at the firm Arnold & Porter, which is representing Juárez.

    Jones alleges that when Juárez raised concerns about her daughter’s deteriorating condition she wasn’t taken seriously.
    “The medical care that Mariee received in Dilley was neglectful and substandard,” Jones said.

    Legal papers filed Tuesday claim Mariee was still ill when she and her mother were released from Dilley to stay with family in New Jersey. Hours after arrival, Juárez took Mariee to the emergency room. Six weeks later, Mariee died.

    “It was unimaginably painful for Yazmin,” Jones said.
    What is ICE saying?
    In an emailed statement to news outlets, ICE said:

    “ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care. Staffing includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care.”

    What are medical professionals saying?
    A pediatrician who reviewed Mariee’s medical records disputes ICE’s claims, and says the child did not receive adequate care in Dilley.
    “Nobody at any time decided to actually have a pediatrician or a doctor see the child,” said Benard Dreyer, the director of pediatrics at the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    “Can we guarantee that if [she] had been sent to the hospital a week earlier, it wouldn’t have been too late? I can’t guarantee that,” Dreyer told NPR. But he adds, “the child was very sick and should have been sent to a hospital.”

    In July, two doctors contracted by the Department of Homeland Security released a scathing assessment of care at Dilley and other family detention centers.

    “The threats to health and safety of the children are not merely theoretical,” the doctors wrote. Family detention is “an exploitation and an assault on the dignity and health of children and families.”

    What do you think?
    Are you concerned about the medical care children receive at family detention centers? Do you support ICE’s plan to expand the use of the facilities? What should happen to unauthorized immigrants once they cross the border—detainment or monitoring devices? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

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His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

— Matthew 25:23 (NRSV)

Sen. McCain could not raise an arm because of the unbelievable torture his body endured in years of captivity.

Everybody in American who loved John McCain, and that’s the vast majority of Americans and people around the world except Putin and friends, hated John McCain sometimes.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (D) and U.S. Senator John McCain the Maverick Republican.
REUTERS photo/Fahad Shadeed

I loved Sen. McCain, but it took me a long time to forgive him for inflicting Sarah Palin on us.

History has revealed that McCain very much wanted then-Democrat and senatorial colleague Joe Lieberman for his running mate, which would have been a huge gamble. But he caved in to advisors and gambled on Palin.

His presidential campaign was sunk from the get-go anyway, at a time when Americans were so down on the endless wars McCain and Bush backed, not to mention the Republican president’s near-economic Depression.

McCain was way too hawkish and pro-war for my taste, and that’s what I hated about McCain the political leader.

But that’s how great leadership goes. A great leader is willing to stand like a rock and be decisive, strong and principled in ways that are sure to win love and praise from some quarters and intense hatred from other directions.

A great leader can also apologize when he or she is dead wrong. McCain’s biggest apology to the American people came when he got caught up in a big economic scandal back in the day.

A strong leader has a big, healthy ego, but is humbled by the office he or she holds. McCain said constantly over his long and very long political career that he was imperfect and made more than his share of big mistakes.

A strong political leader is not only decisive, but also articulate enough to explain, in unambiguous and eloquent terms, the reasons for his or her votes, as McCain did.

There was a whole other John McCain, the military hero, who was superhuman in his tolerance for pain and suffering. He was equally superhuman in his integrity and principles for rejecting two offers by his captors for early release after they learned his father was an admiral in the U.S. Navy.

See here for an overview of the torture the POW John McCain endured.

And here’s another mark of his admirable integrity: McCain was a man of deep Christian faith, but quiet faith, the best kind of faith.

Unlike 99 percent of Republican politicians today, he never, ever pandered to Christian voters to win favor.

And of course, there was John McCain the family man. Along with his beloved wife Cindy, he fiercely protected the privacy of their seven children. All of the McCain offspring except the fiercely political Meghan wanted nothing to do with being in the public eye.

Love him or hate him — and most all of us hated his politics sometimes — he made a mark in history the size of a battleship.

Well done, sir. Take your perfect rest, your perfect peace.

A 2016 Twitter photo from John McCain’s wife Cindy at the wedding of son Jimmy McCain where all seven children are pictured in this incredibly diverse and military-loving family.

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The never-ending revelations about sick clergy members and their enablers in leadership positions have Catholics and Americans from all faith traditions and none rightly outraged.

I hope and pray Americans aren’t becoming immune to the ongoing effects of the sickening child-separation policy that was mandated by the current occupant of the White House and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whom he so despises.

Despises except, that is, when the AG Sessions is so proud to announce a new Trump policy that America’s pediatricians condemned as child abuse.

Tweet this, Trump enablers.

Luke 17:2
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

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I have only 5 Mins to burn for this! (Photo by Elijah O’Donnel)

I’ve noticed a curious little notation that appears on an increasing number of articles and essays in online publications: 5 Min Read.

The notation informs the reader of how long it will take to read the piece, be it “5 Mins” or 20. The time estimate is usually placed right beside the date of the article, or by a writer’s byline, with a tiny computer or cell phone graphic.

Never mind that some readers read fast, with good, quick comprehension, while others are still in the starting gate. I’m not sure how they come up with such arbitrary ERTs (Estimated Reading Times).

Here’s your Thought for the Day:

Are we all rushing through life at such a fast clip that we need to know if a piece will take only 5 or possibly 20 minutes to read?

When did reading become such a sprint against the 24 hours in a day that we need to know if the race will be a quick sprint or a few laps?

Reading isn’t supposed to be the equivalent of WHAM!! BAM!!!! THANK U mA’Am!!!!!

That’s Twitter.

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This is what we hear in Aretha’s voice. Truth. It is a voice that contains the spiritual and the field holler, the blues moan, gospel shout, and jazz improvisation. … She excels at any form she tries, including opera.

“Aretha’s voice is America at its best.”

— Farah Jasmine Griffin on Aretha Franklin in The Nation

Still Life in Soul.

I invite you to join me in gazing on this arresting portrait of a natural woman. If the eyes are the window to the soul, you can look into those Aretha eyes and see how deep the beauty and truth of God run.

Back in the day, when even white guys like me would drive down the road singing along with Aretha’s latest hit with the radio at 120 decibels, Aretha Franklin had the whole world in her hands.

And Aretha Franklin dared to let it all go, kids.

She did so by telling Jet Magazine that she would gladly pay the bail of Angela Davis, an unapologetic communist, for God’s sake, who had been jailed on charges of purchasing firearms used in the takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, California.

Aretha explained that she would pay the bail, not because she believed in communism, but because … well, read this fine take on her life for why she would do it (and why she didn’t have to).

Thanks for the memories, Queen, and for showing us what courage and integrity are about.

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The Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League have added a $75 hamburger to their 2018 football season menu. (See here for the contents.)

The Arizona Cardinals’ Burger Challenge: a burger the size of the baby.
(2018 Scripps Media, Inc)

Now stop and consider this: this hamburger weighs roughly the size of a healthy newborn baby like baby Jesus: a whopping 7 pounds, 0 ounces!*

But that’s not all. Any one fan who can eat this $75 burger (and eat it in good health; no barfing allowed) within one hour will receive — Wow! — a free Arizona Cardinals football jersey!!!

But here’s the Dijon moutarde on the bun: the fan will also get recognized on the team’s video scoreboard in front of a stadium full of appreciative football fans!!!!

This is the kind of free-marketism and consumption for which millions of our American heroes have sacrificed all.

A grateful Christian nation salutes you, Cardinals!
————
*The Cardinals ask that you please rise and stand with your Cardinals cap over your heart and say grace to Baby Jesus before pigging out. Thank you.

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Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. He was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny.”

— Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen in his tribute to his brother from another mother Walter Becker, who died last year age age 67

Hello, rockers.

I desperately need some cool Music Therapy.

You probably do, too. So I’m here to serve us both with a Happy Friday song from my era, one sure to get your Jitterbug leg shaking.

Longtimers here at The Cult of the Jitterbug know that I’m a lunatical fan of that Dynamic Duo that was the inimitable Steely Dan.

The World’s Most Dangerous Duo: Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

(AN ASIDE IS IN ORDER: As Dave Berry would say, “I am not making this up”: Years ago I was the co-founder and self-appointed chaplain of an online Fan Club called the All-Night Underground Steely Dan Fan-Land Cult Club, comprising, as I used to say, graduates of the some of the best drug and rehab clinics in the world. Many members were fragile people — several were Vietnam vets — who sent me private prayer requests and asked me all kinds of great theological questions. I think there were 11 members at its peak. For a couple of years, Steely Dan brought us together in a strange, holy community in cyberspace before the small but intense community fizzled out.)

I’m still mourning the death of Walter Becker. I can’t imagine the grief his brother by another mother, Donald Fagen, is working through, even as he and his Steely Dan Band continue to be the musical road warriors that Becker/Fagen and their select, precision musicians always were.

Steely Dan’s great body of work contains songs and lyrics that are, by turns, dangerously dark and edgy, uplifting and funny as hell; sad and sweet; nostalgic and cutting-edge.

Their music can be pessimistic, raw and cynical, or so upbeat and optimistic (and ironic and witty) as to be just finger-snapping groovy, baby.

Much of the always idiosyncratic music is subversive. They did take the name “Steely Dan,” an underground word for a dildo, from a William Burroughs novel.

    (Imagine, if you will, an episode of the Beaver:

    BEAVE: “Gee, Wally, what’s a Steely Dan?”

    EDDIE HASKELL: “It’s a Superman thing. Beat it, ya little twerp.”)

Sometimes an enigmatic Steely Dan song is all the above wrapped into one.

Donald Fagen released a lot of songs on solo albums inspired by his personal point of view, which was informed in a comfortable, middle-class, suburban upbringing.

But even Fagen solo songs with the Fagen POV were produced by Becker. He grew up in a rotten, abusive home, which gave him a hard-nosed, cynical POV.

Yet their POVs meshed as perfectly as their perfectionist musicianship. They were two intellectual renegades, both drawn to great, cutting edge art in music, literature, films and life’s theatre of the absurd.

Donald Fagen’s moody Nightfly album, “with jazz and conversation and sweet music — from the foot of Mount Belzoni.”

I love Donald Fagen’s hit from The Nightly album, “New Frontier.” It’s inspired by those growing-up years of his in the fifties and early sixties. I’m the same age as Fagen and Becker and that was my own era.

It was a time in which so many of us grew up in with our little transistor radios playing “Elvis, or somebody else’s favorite song,” with our pillows over our heads, long after the lights were turned out.

I can relate to everything referenced in Donald Fagen’s “New Frontier”:

— America’s ludicrous, irrational response to the Cold War and nuclear bombs;

— the limbo rock fad;

— the pioneering cool jazz of Dave Brubeck (Steely Dan’s idol and inspiration);

— and the yearning of a small-town or suburban middle-class white boy to take in the bright lights of the wicked city.

Maybe more than anything else, I can relate to the duo’s boyhood infatuation with a mostly forgotten Hollywood sweetheart — the Queen of the Prom who had a slightly dangerous edge — with whom all of us adolescent boys were infatuated (I guess that’s the right word): Tuesday Weld.

A smart, terrific actor beginning in childhood, she received a Golden Globe in 1960 as “Newcomer of the Year.”

OY! Even the name was perfection:

TuesdayWeld.

Tuesday Weld and David Janssen in “The Fugitive.”

Anyway, the boys of Steely Dan would never have vomited a commercial song as poppy and sentimental as “Penny Lane.”

As much as I love The Eagles and the cynical and often edgy Don Henley, Becker and Fagen would sooner have stabbed themselves in the eyes with drumsticks than put out an atrocity as awful as “There’s a New Kid in Town.”

Or worse, a song like “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” for an easy paycheck from Hollywood. (I could never change the radio dial fast enough.)

Below is the video version of “New Frontier” with the lyrics, and lots of images of Tuesday.

Don’t let em take your mind.

Read Rolling Stone’s obituary of Walter Becker here.

See the Steely Dan Websites here.

And for bonus listening … another weird, witty and wonderful Dan classic …

Get your fez on: I want to be your Holy Man.

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Me & Stephanie Garcia, who struggled mightily through most of her school life but finally came through and completed her first year of high school with flying colors.


Longtime followers of my blog know that I financially support my 5-year-old Belizean daughter Paulita (Miss Belize) McKay and her siblings: Stephanie and Felix Garcia, ages 16 and 13, respectively.

Stephanie–who completed her first year of school at the Catholic St. Ignatius High School in June — finished the year with a 3.4 grade point average, a solid B!.

It was quite an accomplishment for a young lady who could barely read and write English when I started tutoring her and Felix five years ago.

Stephanie has blossomed academically and I’m hoping she will complete three more years of high school and, possibly, advance to college as well.

But the high cost of the private high schools in Belize — where 95 percent of the schools are church schools and therefore expensive — is too much for me to pay on my limited income. I support the entire family financially with needs other than schooling.

Stephanie in the mestizo dress her mom made for her during Culture Week at St. Ignatius High School. I vastly underestimated the cost of Steph’s high school education because of the many expenses required for her to participate in events like Culture Week. I do want her to be involved in all the extracurricular events she can get in, however, which could help her application to college in three years.

All this is to say that I’m asking for financial help from folks willing to donate money for the costs of Stephanie’s second year of high school, which begins soon.

This year, I’m hoping to raise $1,100 ($2,200 in BZ currency) for the entire 2017-18 academic year.

Last year, my goal was $800 — which was not nearly enough because of so many expenses I didn’t anticipate in budgeting.

Tuition for Stephanie’s second year is covered. On July 3, I paid a down payment on tuition of $150 ($300BZ). Between what I will pay of the $40 and a Belizean government grant of $300BZ that all first- and second-year students receive, Stephanie’s tuition for the 2017-18 is covered.

It’s the massive number of costs that pop up throughout the school year that are too much for me to keep Steph in school on my retirement monies.

So I’m asking once again for the many generous donors who have contributed dollars since last year to consider another donation toward the $1,100 goal.

Also, I’d ask the many new readers of the blog and new friends on social media to consider a donation.

I have learned that most donors much prefer to contribute through my PayPaul account at revpaulmckay@gmail.com.

I have set up a new fund for the second year, however, at GoFundMe, for those who prefer that system. The downside of GoFund Me is the significant dollars in fees that the fund takes off the top of every donation. PayPaul’s fee is a few pennies. (The payment processing fee is 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation.)

Whatever route you may choose, please know that I’ll keep you posted on the payments and on Stephanie’s academic progress as it did last year.

And many thanks in advance from me and Stephanie for whatever amount you give — and know that $10 is appreciated as much as $100!

Here is the like to the GoFundMe site where I give more detailed information on the breakdown of expenses I didn’t anticipate for the first year of Stephanie’s high school education. Trouble is, GoFundMe, which has a deserved reputation for being technical problems, is not allowing me to post a link here. If you want to find it, go to the link and do a search in Education for Steph’s Education Fund, 2018-19.

Stephanie finished her first year of high school with a 3.4 GPA on a 4.0 system. She had a C and a C+ in what is always her most challenging subject, English.

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Nightmarish tales are beginning to emerge of parents being reunited with their kids only to have them taken away a second time; or of parents being told that they are about to be reunited with their children, only to wait hours before being returned to holding facilities without seeing their kids — and without any explanation.

— from Texas Monthly Magazine

Meanwhile, in other news being overwhelmed by 20 lies and distractions a day on one Twitter account alone, brown-skin children and their parents in the United States of America continue to be treated like Jewish children and their parents were treated in Nazi Germany in the thirties.

This is not Christian.

This is not humane.

This is not the American way.

This is not acceptable.

Thank God for ACLU lawyers, Christian activists and other unsung heroes working so hard to uncover the truth and to protect the very people that our Lord Jesus fought the greatest fight for.

That includes the supposed “enemy of the people” like the journalists at the venerable Texas Monthly and Texas Observer magazines trying to keep up with this ungodly mess.

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